DMV to recall Confederate license plates following judge's order
RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge granted Attorney General Mark Herring's request Thursday afternoon to vacate the original order that mandated the Commonwealth issue vanity license plates featuring the Confederate flag.
As a result, officials with the attorney general's office said the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will begin recalling and replacing the Confederate flag plates.
"This ruling will allow Virginia to remove a symbol of oppression and injustice from public display on its license plates," Herring previously said about the plates. "Virginia state government does not have to and will not endorse such a divisive symbol."
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However, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) had fired back against the DMV's plan to replace the group's vanity license plates featuring the Confederate flag after Gov. Terry McAuliffe challenged the legality of the plates in June following a Supreme Court ruling in a Texas case that he said helped authorize his decision.
Lawyers for the Confederate sons had said that not only does McAuliffe not have the power to make such an order, but that the Texas ruling does not necessarily apply to Virginia.
"When comparing the two cases, the procedure for issuing specialty license plates is so vastly different between Texas and Virginia that there is an important legal question as to whether the U.S. Supreme Court's Walker decision even applies here," Fred D. Taylor, an attorney for the group, said a in news release.
But the judge rejected that argument.
"When the Supreme Court speaks, district courts must listen. In light of the ruling in Walker, the primary rationale for the 2001 judgment and injunction in this case is no longer good law. Specialty license plates represent the government's speech, and the Commonwealth may choose, consonant with the First Amendment, the message it wishes to convey on those plates," Federal Judge Jackson Kiser wrote." The Commonwealth's rationale for singling out SCV for different treatment is no longer relevant. According to the Supreme Court, the Commonwealth is free to treat SCV differently from all other specialty groups. Because the underlying injunction violates that right, I have no choice but to dissolve it."
A recent story by the Richmond Times Dispatch stated that the Richmond and Tri-Cities region has the most Confederate heritage supporters.
Their data analysis found that of the state's 1,691 Confederate plates, our region has 397. Chesterfield County topped the RTD list with 111 plates, while Hanover had the second highest amount. ave the power to make such an order, but that the Texas ruling does not necessarily apply to Virginia.
The Virginia General Assembly approved a specialty license plate for the SCV in 1999, but lawmakers forbid the group from displaying the Confederate insignia.
The organization sued and the Fourth Circuit eventually upheld the organization's first amendment rights.